Six podiums in five days | AspenTimes.com

Six podiums in five days

Jerome PugmireThe Associated Press

Julia Mancuso files over a jump on her way to winning Tuesday's World Cup downhill in Val D'Isere, France. (Marco Trovati/AP)

Aspen, CO ColoradoVAL D’ISERE, France – Julia Mancuso’s first World Cup victory capped a remarkable few days for American skiers.The Olympic giant slalom champion won the downhill Tuesday on the Oreiller-Killy course in 1 minute, 38.93 seconds.”To win my first World Cup race feels good, but I always knew it was there,” Mancuso said. “It was just the case of being able to execute.”Renate Goetschl of Austria was runner-up, 0.43 seconds behind, and World Cup downhill leader Lindsey Kildow, Mancuso’s teammate and last year’s Val d’Isere winner, was 0.54 back in third.

“It’s always good to have an American on the podium – and this is more than one,” Kildow said. “A lot of people have started to ski better and better and step up more.”Five days. Six top-three finishes for Americans.Bode Miller started the roll with a super-G win at Val Gardena on Friday, while Steve Nyman took the downhill at the Italian resort the following day for his first World Cup win.Miller then finished second Sunday in the giant slalom at Alta Badia, Italy, as did Ted Ligety in Monday’s slalom on the Gran Risa course.Miller is third overall in the men’s World Cup. Kildow is fourth in the women’s.”It would be amazing if we could finish the season with a U.S. 1-2,” Kildow said.Kildow is 86 points behind leader Nicole Hosp, but would likely be closer had illness not forced her to skip last weekend’s combined and super-G at Reiteralm, Austria.

“I like got sick on the plane over there,” she said. “Then I puked my brains out for 24 hours. It was heinous.”Kildow puts the U.S. team’s improved results down to competitiveness and team spirit.”Obviously Steve (Nyman) encourages Julia (Mancuso) a lot … they used to date. And Ted (Ligety) always sends me e-mails or we chat on My Space a lot,” Kildow said. “Everyone encourages each other.”Everyone, except Miller.”That’s not Bode’s kind of thing,” said Kildow, when asked if he’d ever checked on her female teammates.

Kildow feels the 24-year-old Nyman’s energy has inspired the whole team.”What Steve’s doing, at his age, is amazing,” she said. “It’s much tougher to succeed on the men’s circuit at that age.”Kildow, who leads the downhill standings with a top-three finish in each of the three races, is already looking ahead with confidence to the 2010 Vancouver Games.”We’re all still really young,” she said. “I’m 22, Julia is 22, so is Stacey (J. Cook). It could just be insane for us at the next Olympics.Mancuso’s improvement has been dramatic after placing 10th and 39th in downhill races at Lake Louise earlier this month.

Mancuso was the 21st racer down the course, meaning she had to watch Paerson, Goetschl and Kildow try to beat her time.”It was nerve-racking,” Mancuso said. “But everything lined up perfectly and it went well. I was consistent the whole way and others made little mistakes.”The women have another downhill at Val d’Isere on Wednesday, and a slalom on Thursday.Also Tuesday, Anja Paerson of Sweden was fourth, Ingrid Jacquemod of France was fifth, and veteran Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria sixth.Overall in the standings, Hosp has 421 points, followed by Goetschl with 391 and Marlies Schild with 377. Neither Hosp nor Schild is strong at downhill – both tied for 36th place on Tuesday.